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THE DARK AGES                         107

follow the monastic life. It is sometimes said that the monasteries
had two schools attached to them, one in the cloister for their
own novices, one outside for other pupils (externi) who by the
common rule of the monasteries were not permitted inside the
cloister. But this seems to be a false deduction from a few
exceptional cases, like that of the celebrated abbey of St. Gall,
in which under Irish influences schools were instituted both for
those inside and those outside the order. In the ordinary case,
it was only the novices and the oblati (if there were any) who
received instruction. And since in accordance with the monastic
discipline one monk was set aside to exercise a constant super-
vision over two novices by night and day, the actual number of
scholars must have been quite small even in the largest monasteries:
sometimes, indeed, only one or two, rarely more than ten.


While monasticism on the Continent, from the Sixth to the
Eighth Century, was sunk in ignorance and was indifferent
to education, a very remarkable revival of learning was taking
place in the monasteries of Ireland, which madfe Ireland the best
educated country in Europe during this period. The circum-
stances under which this pre-eminence was achieved are obscure.
Sometime about the Fourth Century Christianity was established
among the Scots (as the people of Ireland were then called) by
missionaries who probably came over from England and from
Gaul. Then for the two centuries during which the Teutonic
barbarians were destroying the Roman civilization in England
and Gaul, the Irish Church was cut off from the outside world
and left free to develop an organization and theology of its own,
different in many important respects from those of the Church
from which it had originally sprung. One result of this separation
was the formation of a distinctive method of Church government.
Instead of a system of dioceses ruled by bishops subject to the
pope such as prevailed on the Continent, there were scattered
throughout the land a great number of independent monasteries,
whose members combined the functions of both secular and
regular clergy for the districts in their immediate neighbourhood.
With this went many other variations in matters of ritual (such